Charlie Webster’s Crisis Comforts

May 16, 2024. Series 7. Episode 88

As regular listeners and viewers will know, at the end of all our conversations we ask our guests for their three crisis comforts; their go-tos for inspiration and strength during the challenging times. Short but perfectly formed advice for getting you through the tough moments.  Over the years we have heard some incredibly interesting and more importantly, useful tips for anyone who might be feeling the weight of their own problems.

In this short episode – Charlie Webster – an award-winning broadcaster, journalist, author, documentary maker, producer and campaigner, who has achieved all this whilst carrying the weight of so much personal trauma – shares her three crisis comforts.

Full episode


Why it’s OK to Talk About Trauma, 2024.


Charlie’s Podcasts: Undiscussable, Surviving El Chapo, Scamanda

Charlie’s Documentary: Nowhere to Run – Abused by our Coach


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Host – Andy Coulson

CWC team: Jane Sankey, Louise Difford, Mabel Pickering

With special thanks to Ioana Barbu and the brilliant people at Global

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Full transcript:

Andy Coulson:            Before you go, I’m going to ask you for your Crisis Comforts. Interestingly on the subject of words, we used to call them Crisis Cures, and then Julia Samuel who is an amazing woman, a grief counsellor, probably the most accomplished in the country, she said, “You’ve got to stop using the word cure. It’s not the right word, there is no cure.” And so we call the Crisis Comforts as a result.

Charlie Webster:         That’s nice, I agree with that.

Andy Coulson:            So the three things that you sort of lean on, rely, on. Please be as specific as possible. Can’t be another person, in those difficult moments.

Charlie Webster:         So it can’t be another person, and-

Andy Coulson:            Can’t be another person, that’s really the only rule.

Charlie Webster:         I’m going to start with my running trainers. So my running trainers are so important to me, because when I’m struggling with feeling really said, or when I’m struggling with anxiety, or I’m struggling with stress, or I’m struggling with any kind of emotion, or I just need to breathe, I put my trainers on and they are like my- this is going to sound really sad, but like my best friends.

Because as soon as I put my trainers on and I run- I always run outside the majority of the time, I feel like I can breathe. It helps relax my nervous system, which again is biology, so not just in my head. It helps relax my nervous system, it allows me to take a deep breath which calms me down, it helps me process my thoughts, it helps me deal with my emotions. If I’m struggling inside and I really need to let them out and I just can’t, I can’t by talking and I can’t by- you know, sometimes when I run it’s like, you know, the anger comes out, or I might cry, and just let it out. I work stuff out in my head, as well. So my running trainers is one.

Andy Coulson:            You cry when you run sometimes?

Charlie Webster:         Yes, because sometimes I- this is one of the things I do talk about in my book, is it was always very difficult for me to cry because of what happened to me when I was younger, and when I cried the abuse would get worse. So it then became very difficult for me to cry, and also I felt very vulnerable when I cried and I struggled with vulnerability because I felt that I had to protect myself all the time because of everything I’d been through. So it helped.

Yes, but sometimes I do cry when I’m running. Honestly, I’ve done it recently. Like, I’ll be crying, or sometimes I’ll shout. Obviously not too much in public but you know, if I’m like- I’ll sometimes take myself off to some woods or a park or something, early in the morning or whatever, and yes, sometimes I will dispel all those emotions. Because I think doing the physical act just helps me release it sometimes.

And then the second thing is a blanket. And actually Dr Rachel, the psychologist who I worked with, taught me this. So sometimes when I’m feeling really in a crisis, and you mentioned you can’t have someone, but actually this- I’m going to be really open, I don’t actually talk about this much. But sometimes I’ll find it difficult if somebody wants to give me a cuddle, because I just feel so closed up, and I wonder if people can relate.

So one of things that Dr Rachel started to do with me and taught me, is when I was really upset or distressed and in a crisis I would put a blanket on my shoulders and it would add an element of comfort, it was almost like having a cuddle but without the vulnerability of a cuddle. And I actually do that all the time now. I have a blanket actually, my little brother bought it me. It’s this bright yellow blanket, fluffy thing, and I’ll wrap it around me and it honestly works.

Try it. Even if it feels stupid, nobody has to see. Just put a blanket over your shoulders, and it’s just a comfort and a reassurance that we all need no matter who we are.

And then the third thing is I’ve got this little teddy thing, it’s a rabbit, I actually talk about it in the book, called Rabby. My mum was actually adopted and it was the only thing that came with my mum in her adoption, and her biological mum made it. So it’s like a knitted rabbit. It’s even got a few scars where it got burned.

So my mum passed it down to me when I was a young kid, and it’s interesting again because Dr Rachel was the person that- so poor Rabby was just in a box somewhere and then Dr Rachel said to me, “Have you got like a teddy or anything?” And I was like, “What are you talking about? I’m a grown adult, I don’t need a teddy.” Sorry, but that’s sometimes what I was like in these therapy sessions.

And I was like, “Well, I’ve got this thing called Rabby,” and I explained the story, and she said, “Could you have Rabby in your bed? Or could you have Rabby there sometimes?” And I was like, “Yes, but I’m not a child.”

But Rabby, sometimes when I’m really upset, even if I just lay him there on my bed or just sit on a chair, it just connects me with, you know, again it’s just comfort. It just connects me with my life, my mum and my story.

So those are my three things. So running trainers, blanket and Rabby.

Andy Coulson:            They are amazing. We’ve had some fantastic comforts during the course of the hundred-odd episodes that we’ve done, but they are right up there. That’s brilliantly told, and thank you.

Charlie Webster:         Thank you.

Andy Coulson:            Charlie, thanks again for coming in, I really do appreciate it.

Charlie Webster:         Thanks for having me.

Andy Coulson:            I think that’s what they call a proper conversation.

Charlie Webster:         It really was, thank you.